Stowmarket: Farmers’ meeting calls for crackdown on hare coursing
More than 60 farmers met with police today to air their concerns about growing problems with hare coursing in Suffolk.
The informal meeting, organised by Country Land and Business Association (CLA) East at the Cedars Hotel in Stowmarket, followed an incident earlier this month when a farmer in his 60s confronting hare coursers was hit by a car at Hitcham, near Stowmarket, injuring his back and cutting his hand.
Rural neighbourhoods in Suffolk were asked to be vigilant this winter against hare coursers as Assistant Chief Constable Tim Newcomb and Superintendant Terry Byford heard farmers’ concerns.
Hare coursing is the pursuit of hares with dogs, which chase by sight and not scent.
Police and the CLA said there had been an increase in calls over the past few weeks regarding suspicious vehicles in the rural areas which may be linked to the illegal activity.
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They are urging the public to report anything unusual in their area so a body of evidence can be built up and offenders can be stopped.
The meeting discussed how hare coursing can be eradicated by police and the community working in partnership.
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CLA East regional director Nicola Currie, who chaired the meeting and lives in Hitcham, said: “Hare coursers are vicious criminals. It is a highly organised crime based on illegal betting with very large sums of money changing hands. The offenders are likely to operate in remote areas where they can video the event, streaming it back to a location, often across the county boundary.
“The CLA meet with each county police force annually and we know that Cambridgeshire and Lincolnshire are currently having a clampdown on hare coursing. The consequence is that we are now seeing an increasing number of incidents in Suffolk, a county which used to have the problem under control.”
Suffolk Constabulary’s Assistant Chief Constable Tim Newcomb said: “Hare coursers are criminals and give no consideration to landowners’ property and crops. They often have a sophisticated information network and knowledge of rural areas and they invariably know about vulnerable properties in the area, short cuts, and escape routes. Their actions mean that rural communities can often feel very intimidated.
“Police are keen to encourage landowners and members of the public to report any activity they think may be suspicious. If coursing is suspected, do not confront the participants but call police immediately. Where possible, ensure as much details as possible is noted about the offenders to help police in tracing the individuals.”
Call police on 999 if you see a crime in progress or 101 if you have information. Alternatively you can contact Crimestoppers anonymously with information.